Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Two lanes good, four lanes bad

At last the tide seems to be turning against the overblown,
shortsighted, off-planet idea known to people of the
Wellington region as ‘Transmission Gully.’ This proposal
to build a four-lane highway through the hills inland from
Porirua to Paekakariki should never got off the drawing-
board but somehow it escaped several years ago and has
been given shelter and nourishment ever since by people
who can't see further than the front of their cars. There’s
already a perfectly adequate coastal highway; and to those
who say ‘No way is that route adequate,’ because they get
stuck in tailbacks on it at rush-hour, I say I know what it’s
like, I used to drive it myself, and it’s crazy stuff. If you
want to live half an hour out of Wellington on the Kapiti
coast, yet go into the city to work each day, then take the
train. That’s what it’s there for. And you’ll need it more
than ever soon. To keep talking about Transmission Gully
is to dwell in some fairyland where the petrol will never
run out and the more cars on roads the better. Besides, if
you really do consider it a national tragedy that State
Highway 1 narrows to one lane each way at Pukerua Bay,
then the coastal part north of there can be four-laned at
far less trouble and expense than the gully route would cost
(see a good interview in today’s Dominion Post with former
Ministry of Works head Bob Norman). I'm glad to see new
transport minister Steven Joyce is lukewarm about
Transmission Gully
, if only for financial rather than
environmental and energy reasons. 'What's now needed is
the big tick to go ahead,' says Ohariu MP Peter Dunne,
who's always been pro-gully, but even the Ministry of
Transport is advising that it'll add to traffic congestion in
the capital and that the 'economic benefits are low.' Time,
I think, to quit private-car fairyland for the real world.

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